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Combat Repairs. WTF?!



It seems to me that a highly skilled master engineer is actually worse off if he works with a damage control team than if he works alone.

To use an admittedly extreme example, let's assume that a solid professional grade assistant engineer has 5 ranks in T/Engineer (since 5 ranks == trained professional in d20).

Now, let's assume that our hypothetical master engineer has 17 ranks in T/Eng (not unrealistic for a 14th level character for example) with a bonus in the low to mid twenties.

This engineer would actually be better off working ALONE even with the -10 penalty (100% casulaties) even when working on the engine room of a battleship than with a full gang of twenty engineers.

Why? Because at his base skill, the lone master engineer will still have something like a +15 to his repair roll (even accounting for the -10) [call it 7 effective ranks], while the average rank of his team of 20 will be only 5 (round down remember).

I don't wish to be rude, but was someone smoking crack? Do they authors really mean to tell us that you are worse off with a team of professionals than with a solo master engineer?!

Please tell me that I am missing somethng.....

My dear Polaris,

i don't think you're missing anything. The more time i spend with the rules the more I think they are in need of a rewrite, or atleast some haevy editing. IMHO of course.
Here's another situation where GM common sense has to step in. Usually in the form of unwritten house rules (my players will argue these with me and I will usually agree). Where you have a team of 20 engineers helping a master engineer, I would provide an additional +1/4 engineers (for a +5 total) and reduce the repair duration by the same number of rounds as the bonus.

If the engineers are of higher skill the bonus might be higher, but that's open to discussion.

I certainly agree for individual games, but IMHO this is a huge freaking hole. After all, ship combat is not uncommon in traveller (at least as I remember the OTU), and the ability to do damage control is essential.

In short, I was wondering why none of the playtesters caught this and I a firmly feel that leaving something this important to GM fiat (no matter how well intentioned) is unwise at best.

I take it then that you agree with Rover....that I am not in fact missing something? I just wish to be clear.

No no, you are correct, you are NOT missing something, rather the rules are...and to be clear, yes I agree that something of this nature should have been corrected before going to print.
I mean, imagine poor Scotty with no ratings to help running around engineering trying to fix everything during a pitched battle! Likely he would drop from exhaustion.

Typically we all find holes or rules that don't make any sense for a particular situation. At that point the GM has to make a judgement call and use common sense.

Perhaps this is somehting that should be added to the errata sheet?
Originally posted by Polaris:
Please tell me that I am missing somethng.....

The point you are missing is the extreme disconnect between the D20 standard "Professional" skill level and the T20 assumed standards for skills.

For an engineer with 5 skill ranks means they probably are 2nd-3rd level, a feat accomplished by one term in service. By T20 standards, this person is just starting out, capable of finding his head with both hands but not much else.

The proper way to approch this is to assume the deck crew has had three terms of service, which places them at 6th-8th level, and a skill rank of around 10.

The other think to keep in mind is the master engineer spending his time directing, what are to him, total incometents can't effectivly utilize his mastery of the engines.

With respect, I don't think I am missing that at all. In my experience with the service (I was a Computer tech in the USAF at one time), most of the techs that you would have in a departement (such as engineering) will be what T-20 would consider "one term professionals". [IRL most techs in the military or civilian are E-5 or less and/or have less than 5 years of field experience.]

Thus I think my criticism is spang on. /MOST/ Npc help should be 2-4th level (1 termers) which implies 5 ranks.

I tend to agree more with tjoneslo's assessment. The Master Chief Engineer (who shall reign surpreme in the belly of the best) will be spending more time directing those repairs than performing them himself/herself. What repairs that the engineer does take on personally will be the things that require that special "Scotty Miracle-Workin'".

I do agree with your mostly 1 term ratings doing the bulk of the grunt work, directed by 2 - 4 term non-comm's (using battleship reference). The benefit of damage control teams is that they can perform multiple repair jobs simultaneously, leaving the ship's Miracle Worker free to work those miracles bringing that crucial system back online before the bridge calls down for it.



That still doesn't address the essential problem. A single engineer is better than an entire department when making critical repairs which means that if a vital repair has to be done, the master engineer should do it solo.

That ain't right. On repairs the master engineer directs personally, the repair roll should be based on the skill of the leading engineer....not the average of his team.

In fact the rest of d20 (or even T-20) does work this way. For a normal check where multiple people can help, the leader gets a +2 for every follower that makes a DC 10 check on the correct skill. Damage control screams for the same treatment and for the life of me I can not figure out why they don't. [In our game, the GM does use a varient of the basic d20 rule for damage control.]

The only thing I can think of is that the designers ported over the Damage Control rules straight from CT without really addressing how the d20 system changes the basic assumptions of the game.


That is the beauty of Role Playing Games. Since the rules act only as a framework inside of which we weave a story, make what ever changes seem appropriate for your game.

But based on my experience with military mech-a-niks, the benefit of a great fix by the Maintenance Chief working solo is offset by the fact that it takes him so much damn longer to do it.

The way I see it, Damage Control while in combat is a case of people throwing the folks with some technical know-how, tools and whatever material happens to be on hand to plug the whole, bring that power for the port turrets back online or keep the reactor from scramming into saftey mode. It works enough for the emergency repair needs under fire the make it merely 'Damage Control' instead of 'Repair and Refit'.

Again, if the rules as written do not work for you, change them. If at some point I find that they don't work for me, you can bet I'll be doing the same.

Any potentially insulting comments have been removed. We now return you to your regularly scheduled posting, already in progress. I'll exercise my ability to disagree.



Now there was no need to be rude. The rules do not make sense, they are inconsistant with the basic rules for group effort in the SRD, and thus do deserve the appelation, "WTF".

As for your 'justification' for the rules.....it is a great repair that takes longer....well that also is not supported in the rules as written. A damage control action is a full round action. It takes just as long for a single master engineer to fix a fusion core as it does for a full engineering gang of 20....and the solo engineer is better at it.

If you can not see that this makes zero sense, then I really can not help you. Because both common sense and my own technical experience (and many others) says just the opposite.

In addition, in case you missed it, I did have an alternative. Use the group effort d20 rules as written. That is to say that each (up to a GM determined limit) tech helper that makes DC 10 adds +2 to the master engineer's roll. Of course larger repairs have much higher DCs....but that is to be expected. In addition, larger repairs should take longer (which can be simulated by taking 10 and 20 which is written in the rule book).

Instead of being superior and snide (and I am going to call you on this), read the rules and then use freaking common sense. If you do, it should be clear that these rules were never properly playtested at least IMHO.